Russian RBS WorldPay Hacker Avoids Jail over $9M Heist

A hacker linked to a cyber-crime ring that illegally withdrew about $9 million from ATM machines around the world receives a six-year suspended sentence from authorities in Russia.

A hacker linked to the infamous $9 million RBS WorldPay ATM heist was given a six-year suspended sentence by Russian authorities for his role in the crime, according to reports.

In exchange for providing information to authorities, Viktor Pleshchuk, 28, of St. Petersburg, Russia, "received a reduced sentence, which includes four years of probation," Bloomberg said Sept. 8.

Pleshchuk, described by some as the mastermind behind the heist, has also been charged by authorities in the United States, along with several others.

The crew of cyber-thieves is accused of hacking into computer systems at RBS WorldPay in November 2008. According to the FBI, "Once the encryption on the company's card processing system was compromised," the hackers were able to use the data to create fake payroll debit cards, which they provided to a network of "cashers."

Using the cards, the cashers withdrew "more than $9 million from over 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including cities in the United States, Russia, ... Italy ... and Canada"-all in "a span of less than 12 hours," the FBI said in 2009.

"The sheer audacity of this criminal scheme, which stole an extraordinary amount of money in such a short time, is mind-boggling," blogged Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

Pleshchuk has been ordered to pay back more than 275 million rubles to RBS WorldPay.

In August, 26-year-old Sergei Tsurikov, of Tallinn, Estonia, was extradited from Estonia to the United States to face charges in the case.